Guide to Buying a Car Online: Are Internet prices the lowest?

Nowadays, you can buy almost everything online and find considerable discounts. Internet shopping includes vehicles, but does buying a new car online guarantee the lowest prices? Let’s find out all the details behind buying a car online. 

Unlike other purchases online, a vehicle is a significant commitment. Besides a house, it’s one of the most significant things you can buy, so there’s more to it than just putting your credit card number. 

Image for buying a car online shows a hand holding a car key with a blurry car behind it
Close up of dealer giving key to new owner and shaking hands in auto business, car sale, deal,concept

Buying a car online involves research; yes, you can find good discounts. Moreover, some are excellent, but you must tread cautiously. Let’s find out how to buy a new or used car online and what are the challenges. 

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Guide to Buying a Car Online vs. at a Dealership

Buyers have various options when purchasing a vehicle. These include buying a car online, through a traditional dealership, or not buying it at all and opting for a lease. 

Each method has its pros and cons, and understanding the differences can help you decide how to proceed with your car purchase. First, let’s discuss buying a car. 

Buying a car involves several vital steps that buyers must carefully navigate to ensure a successful purchase. Whether you buy a vehicle online or at a dealership, understanding the process is crucial to making the right decision.

Steps to Purchase a Vehicle, whether online or at the dealership

When buying a car, the first step is to decide whether you want a new or used vehicle. Conduct thorough research on the type of car you want, considering factors such as make, model, and features. 

We’ve talked about buying a used car before. Though buying a new car might seem obvious, it’s not always the best for you. Cost, monthly payments, insurance fees, and others are critical.

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Dealer Vehicles in Stock. Brand New Cars Awaiting Clients on the Dealer Parking Lot. New Cars Section.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Before purchasing your next car, consider your budget, financing options, and any trade-in value for your current car. It is also important to check your credit score to determine what loan terms you might qualify for. 

Many people forget that their credit score could be critical to how much they can afford. While it’s not something that you can change overnight, you can take the right steps to ensure you have a good credit score in the long run. 

Comparing Prices Online vs. In Person

One benefit of buying a car online is the ability to easily compare prices from different sellers without visiting multiple dealerships. In-person shopping allows for a more hands-on approach to evaluating the vehicle.

Plus, as we’ll see later, online prices aren’t always accurate. That’s why you should take your time in analyzing them. 

Benefits of Buying a Car Online

Buying a car online offers several advantages that appeal to modern car buyers who want convenience and efficiency in their purchase process. Let’s examine them while also considering some of the drawbacks. 

Convenience of Online Shopping

Online car buying provides the convenience of browsing through a wide selection of vehicles from the comfort of your home. You can shop for cars anytime without needing to visit a dealership in person.

This is a vital aspect as it allows you to compare prices and get ahead in your research. 

Access to a Wide Selection of Vehicles

When buying a car entirely online, you can access a large inventory of new and used vehicles from various sellers and dealerships. This extensive selection increases the chances of finding the perfect car that meets your requirements.

If there’s one drawback, you might have too many options and feel overwhelmed. So, always be aware of limiting what you’re looking for to a couple of initial options. 

Comparing Deals and Offers

Online platforms allow you to easily compare deals, discounts, and financing options different sellers offer. This lets you find the best price and package that suits your budget and preferences.

Jeep Liberty Years You Should Definitely NOT Buy 1 1 Guide to Buying a Car Online: Are Internet prices the lowest?

Applying for an Auto Loan Online

Many online car-buying platforms offer the option to apply for auto loans directly on their websites. This simplifies the financing process and allows buyers to secure financing before finalizing the purchase.

Ensuring Secure Online Transactions

Buyers can rest assured that online car-buying transactions are secure and encrypted to protect their personal and financial information. Advanced security measures safeguard sensitive data during the purchase process.

Arranging for Car Delivery

After completing the online purchase, buyers can arrange having their car delivered to their preferred location, eliminating the need to visit a physical dealership to pick up the car.  Coordinating the delivery of the car is an excellent option, and one that buying online provides more easily.

After all, these buyers don’t want to visit car dealers hence they do it online. So, having the seller bring the car to them is comfortable. 

Benefits of buying a car at a Dealership

Buying a car from a traditional dealership involves a more hands-on approach, including test driving, negotiating, and finalizing the purchase in person. While this may be more time-consuming, we recommend you experience buying your car at the dealership. It can also bring its positives. 

Importance of Test Driving

There’s no other way to put it: drive the car. You need to do this to ensure it’s what you want. 

Test driving a car at a dealership is crucial to ensure that the vehicle meets your expectations regarding comfort, performance, and driving experience. It allows you to assess the condition and quality of the car before making a decision.

The most crucial drawback of buying a car online is that you can’t perform a test drive. So, in that sense, you’re buying the car blind. 

Benefits of Taking a Test Drive

Test driving a car allows buyers to experience how the vehicle handles on the road and whether it meets their driving preferences. It’s a crucial step in the buying process to ensure satisfaction with the purchase.

While the specs online can promise you great acceleration and performance, it’s only until you drive and see the car in person that you understand how it performs and whether it’s to your liking. 

Understanding Financing Options

You can explore various financing options for purchasing a car when you visit the dealership, including loans, leases, and trade-in arrangements. Knowing your financing choices can help you determine the best payment plan for your budget.

There’s also another significant benefit to buying a car at a dealership: you can ask questions to a human being. That alone makes a world of difference. This way, you can ask about car loans, leasing and other options. 

Negotiating the Best Price

One advantage of buying from a dealership is the opportunity to negotiate the price of the car. Sales representatives may offer discounts or incentives to close the deal, providing potential savings for buyers.

Does this mean you cannot find discounts or negotiate online? Not necessarily, but it is much harder to negotiate. According to Kelley Blue Book, negotiating online has become more common. 

Car Delivery Process Explained

Upon purchasing a new or used car, buyers can expect a smooth delivery process where the car is brought to their specified location. This convenient service saves time and effort, especially for busy individuals. 

The one benefit of car shopping at a dealership is that any final details about the delivery can be sorted out in person. However, the drawback is that this can take time out of your schedule. 

Are internet car prices the lowest?

It’s common for online sites to offer considerable discounts for new and used cars. However, it’s not unusual to find that those discounts “only apply online.” 

It makes perfect sense. After all, if the platform operates correctly, human interaction should not be needed, thus reducing time and effort.

So, are internet car prices the lowest? It’s not a definite answer, but they will probably be lower than at a dealership. 

However, if you don’t feel comfortable buying a car online, that shouldn’t deter you from negotiating at the dealership. In fact, you can use the best of both worlds to do so. 

Here’s how to get the best deal on your car using the internet and the dealership. 

11 steps to landing discounts when buying a car online or at a dealership

Start Your Car Buying Search Online

Explore franchised dealers’ online inventories in your area to understand what’s available or incoming. This helps in determining the market’s current offerings.

Ignore “Special Internet Prices”

For the moment, use only these prices as a reference. These prices should ideally be the same as in-store prices, but they can provide a baseline for discounts dealerships are willing to offer.

Direct Communication for Best Deals

For brands that don’t allow advertising below MSRP, you’ll need to contact the dealership directly to negotiate prices. Once you’ve researched, you should be able to negotiate more easily. 

Be Specific in Your Communication

Whether building a car online or sending an email, be clear about your preferences and inquire about available inventory directly. Don’t beat around the bush, but always be polite. 

Clarify Your Communication Preference

Specify whether you want to communicate via email or phone to streamline the negotiation process.

Ask for the Best “Out-the-Door” Price

When discussing electronically, request a total price that includes all unavoidable fees to understand the full cost. Sometimes, the advertised price can come with plenty of hidden fees, so it’s always best to clarify your final price. 

Make Dealers Compete

Contact multiple dealers for the lowest comprehensive price, requesting details like the window sticker and vehicle invoice for transparency. That’s one of the benefits of the internet: you can get more information. 

Beware of Misleading Listings

Dealers may list standard features as options; use the window sticker for accurate information on the car’s specifications. In the case of buying a car online, check that what you’re buying is what you’re asking for. 

Verify the Car’s Availability

Before making any decisions, confirm that the car you’re interested in is physically present at the dealership.

Hold Off on Physical Visits

Only visit the local dealership once you have a clear agreement in place, especially if the desired car is currently out of stock. 

Once you’ve decided on a dealer, ensure you have all necessary documentation (VIN, window sticker, vehicle invoice) and a confirmed final price before making any deposits.

Verify all details, especially the VIN, to ensure everything matches up upon delivery. If you bought your car online, be sure to have a proper contact within the dealership or website if anything happens.

Closing Thoughts on buying a car online. 

The journey to buying a car in the digital age is fraught with options, opportunities, and a fair share of pitfalls. Whether you choose the convenience of online shopping or the traditional route of visiting a dealership, the key lies in diligent research, clear communication, and strategic negotiation. 

There’s also personal preference. Some prefer the buying experience at a dealership, while others found a car online

While the allure of internet pricing offers a tempting start, it’s crucial to remember that the lowest price doesn’t always equate to the best value.

Balancing the benefits of online convenience and in-person reassurances, such as test drives and direct negotiations, can lead to securing a great deal and ensuring the purchase meets all your expectations.

Ultimately, whether online prices are genuinely the lowest can vary based on numerous factors, including the car model, demand, and the seller’s inventory levels. Using the Internet for comparison, research, and initial negotiations can empower buyers to enter discussions with dealerships from a position of knowledge and confidence.

Simultaneously, the tactile feedback from visiting a dealership and negotiating face-to-face should not be underestimated, as it offers a layer of personalization and immediacy that digital transactions lack.

Ultimately, the most savvy car buyers can blend the strengths of both approaches, using online resources to inform their choices and dealership visits to finalize them. By adopting a flexible and informed approach, buyers can navigate the complex car-buying landscape to find the best deal, whether sealed with a click or a handshake.

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